Saturday, June 27, 2015

WWII's battling Penicillins, Ancient and Modern : Who makes it ? Who receives it ?

Initially the Allied medical-scientific elite had planned that penicillin was to made the modern way, man-made by synthetic chemists in huge factories.

And then it was to only be distributed, during wartime, to lightly wounded frontline Allied troops, after the surprise D-Day landings had been successful.

In the end, thankfully nothing of this horrific scheme came to pass.

For a start, no commercial synthetic penicillin was ever made during WWII (and still hasn't happened yet).

Instead ancient, tiny but highly efficient penicillium factories made penicillin production seem effortless and easy, rather like Nijinsky dancing ballet.

Manhattan doctor Martin Henry Dawson had introduced the penicillin-making fungus to Brooklyn soda pop industry supplier Charles Pfizer & Co and Pfizer alone made 85% of the penicillin landed on the D-Day beaches.

Pfizer made so much penicillin in 1944 that it could - all by itself - supply enough penicillin to treat all those in the world dying for lack of it.

And it found governments suddenly willing to buy all that naturally-made penicillin and to distribute to all in need, without fear or favour.

Because Dr Dawson had also introduced the lifesaving capabilities of penicillin to WPB heavyweight Floyd Odlum.

And it was the WPB's OPRD that overruled Vannevar Bush's ORSD, together with Sir Howard Florey & Sir Alexander Fleming, in their desire to only use wartime penicillin as a secret weapon of war.

Instead the OPRD picked up on Dawson's efforts to see that wartime penicillin was distributed to all in need of it.

The terminally-ill Dawson had started his penicillin-for-all crusade in October 1940, given history's first ever antibiotic injections to two minority patients he knew would be denied real medical care under the guise of 'we need all resources to go to front line troops'.

He lived just long enough to see his efforts come to full fruition ...

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